Unidentified assailants have shot and killed a senior judge in Russia's volatile southern republic of Ingushetia, the latest in a series of attacks in the predominately Muslim region.
Aza Gazgireyeva, the deputy head of Ingushetia's supreme court, died of bullet wounds shortly after her car came under fire in the town of Nazran early on Wednesday, Russia's state-run Itar-Tass news agency reported.
The attackers also injured several bystanders before escaping in two cars, Itar-Tass quoted a local interior ministry official as saying.
Russian news agencies also cited investigators as saying Gazgireyeva was likely
killed for her role in investigating the 2004 attack on Ingush police forces
by Chechen fighters.
"Aza Gazgireyeva was a judge with 25 years experience ...the reason for her murder was her professional activities," Mikhail Zadvornov, the supreme court chairman, was quoted by Russia's Interfax news agency as saying.
Ingushetia has been plagued by violence for years, with attacks by Muslim fighters against government officials and security forces being reported almost every month.
Moscow says the anti-government fighters are financed from abroad and seek to destabilise the north Caucasus region.
Critics of the government's policy say official corruption and high unemployment are the main reasons behind the instability and violence.
Chechnya and Ingushetia were united in one region during Soviet times, until Ingushetia broke with Chechnya in 1991.